Monday, November 26, 2012

Inspiring Science: The viruses that infect the bacteria that live in your gut

Your body has ten times more bacterial cells than human cells containing 150 times as much genetic material. I've written several posts about how our gut bacteria, the microbiome, can influence the development of allergies, obesity and type-2 diabetes. We've only recently started studying the microbiome and there's still a lot to learn; it's quite an active area of research. For example, just last year scientists discovered that individuals could be divided into three groups based on the composition of their microbiome, but new research has cast doubt on that idea. And yet, like a matryoshka doll, our biology has still another surprise in store for us: wherever bacteria are found, there are viruses which infect them. As we learn more about the microbiome and its implications, some scientists have turned their attention to the the viral microbiome, the viruses that prey on our gut bacteria and shape their community.

Continue reading at Inspiring Science...